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Driver Awarded $14M in Bus Collision Despite Questions of Health History

In one of the largest personal injury awards of 2014, a Brooklyn jury ordered the ironically named Careful Bus Service, Inc. to pay an elderly ambulette driver $14 million. The case arose from a February 28, 2008 accident in which a minibus rear-ended a van specially equipped for transporting disabled passengers, crushed the rear of the vehicle, and propelled it forward into another car. Sixty-three-year-old Arkadiy Korsunskiy suffered a broken hip that required surgery, and head trauma, which may have led to a stroke resulting in cognitive difficulties and limited mobility.

At the trial, Careful Bus alleged that Mr. Korsunskiy had already hit the car in front before their bus struck the ambulette, an assertion the jury rejected. The bus company also raised Mr. Korsunskiy’s history of hypertension and stroke in an attempt to prove the accident did not cause the stroke he suffered while at the hospital.

Comorbidity, which refers to the serious health problems existing contemporaneously with injuries from the accident, can be a complex issue in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the accident caused the harm, regardless of the patient’s history of similar harm.

This is separate from another legal question, popularly called the “eggshell plaintiff.” That name derives from the classic example of a party who sustains a serious brain injury, not because the impact was great, but because the victim’s skull was unusually thin. The question asked is whether a defendant should be liable for catastrophic harm when the force of a blow should only have produced a small lump. The law answers that the defendant is not entitled to choose his victims, but must take them as they are. However, in the eggshell plaintiff example, there is no question that the immediate cause of the injury was the blow delivered by the defendant.

The question for the jury in Korsunskiy v. Careful Bus Service Inc. was whether it was more likely than not that the crash, causing as it did a head injury to Mr. Korsunskiy, also caused the debilitating stroke. The jury found that despite Mr. Korsunskiy’s history of stroke, had it not been for the crash, he would not have suffered the disabling stroke.

If you or a loved one was injured in a vehicle accident in the New York area, you need an attorney who can handle the complexities of your case. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced slip and fall attorney, call Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson at 888.746.8212 or contact us online.

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